Malone turns tide as Clare shrug off Kerry loss to outgun Offaly
Clare 1-19 Offaly 2-14
Jamie Malone stood out on an energy-sapping afternoon in Tullamore as Clare got their championship back on track.
With a heavy defeat to Kerry in the Munster semi-final still hovering over them, Colm Collins' charges edged a tight and highly entertaining battle with Offaly, who were looking to extend their summer after a premature exit from the Leinster championship and a change of management.
Both sides coughed up a lot of chances - with better finishing, Clare could have put the game to bed by half-time.
Malone was the star of the opening 35 minutes of an outstanding match and it was his goal that got Clare motoring. He also hit the crossbar and a post, before Offaly scored the last 1-2 of the half to go in level.
The goal came from a penalty, which goalkeeper Alan Mulhall blasted to the roof of the net.
While Offaly may have been fortunate to still be in the game, they came back out in the second half in tune and having adjusted to the pace of the game. They were also in their white away jerseys, having ditched their sweat-soaked normal colours.
The Faithful County ended up having chances to win it but Clare were always able to stay that step ahead, with Eoin Cleary chipping in with some huge scores.
After Ruairi McNamee hit the net for Offaly in the fourth minute, the home side led 1-1 to 0-2.
Clare were wasteful but eventually found their way with a Malone goal on 23 minutes sparking them into life.
Malone and Cleary clipped over some superb scores and they looked well in control as they led 1-8 to 1-4 with two minutes left in the half.
Offaly then gave themselves a chance with Johnny Moloney popping over a point before Mulhall smashed in a penalty to leave it all square at half-time - 1-8 to 2-5.
Clare got the first two scores of the second half but Offaly were in no mood to fall away and the game was back level with 30 minutes to go.
Offaly briefly took the lead through captain Anton Sullivan before Clare got four scores on the bounce to lead 1-14 to 2-8 with 20 minutes to go.
McNamee almost had his second goal but blazed over as both sides kept the scores flowing.
With Bernard Allen on form from frees and Clare substitute Gearoid O'Brien making a real impact, the Banner men were just able to keep their noses in front.
With a point between the sides, sub Kevin Harnett popped over the final score of the game to leave the margin at two points in the wind-up.
"It's great to be there. You see who you get, look for a performance the next day and you never know where that'll take you," said Clare's Colm Collins.
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